I had a really interesting conversation with a UX designer in our organization yesterday. We were digging into the current usage patterns we see in our community and our goals for transparency and discoverability. They had some really interesting ideas on the topic of discoverability and want to explore what can be done with tags more.
For a number of reasons, we’re starting to consider that perhaps we should do something like:
- Change our default home page from
- Use the
Categories + Lateststyle for the categories page
- Stop using subcategories (?)
- Build up our capacity to leverage tags for navigation and discoverability instead of subcategories
The switch to using the categories page instead of latest to start is to help newcomers have a sense of the breadth of the site without having to parse a diverse list of topics, which may not be fully representative of the different subjects at any given time. At the same time, showing latest still let’s folks see “what’s happening now”.
But beyond a single level of categorization, it’s hard to fit things into one clear subcategory.
We think tags may help relieve the pressure here, and additionally enable more community participation in determining the taxonomy for organizing material on the site.
But in order to really have tags aid in discoverability, it seems we need to surface them in more intentional ways, and provide more guidance for community curation. Some thoughts we have:
- Show popular tags within a given category underneath that category on the new home page
- On a given category topic list page, show popular tags within that category above the topic list (perhaps in something tag cloud form?)
- On a given tag topic list page, show other tags that are frequently used with that tag
- Require some minimum number of tags on a given post
- Suggest possible tags based on the content of a topic after it’s written
- Suggest possible tags to add to a topic after a new post is written
- Suggest possible tags to add to a topic as it’d being read.
- When a new tag is added, nudge people with questions like:
- Have you checked if there’s an existing tag that means the same thing?
- Cool! A new tag! Are there other existing topics that should get this tag?
- On the main
/tagspage, automatically organize them some how in their frequency and relationship to each other
- Have some semi-automated garbage collection of tags that have little or no frequency, or effectively push them to the sidelines in the UI
I’m sure some of these things have come up before here (I can come back and edit the above if there are clear topics to link to for a given item). But I wanted to just paint the picture in broad strokes and do a bit of a brain dump for some of the ideas kicking around.
And I’m very interested to hear from folks that are actively managing or participating in any other communities that rely heavily on tagging. What have your experiences been like? What works well? What’s challenging?
Our site is private, so I can’t show you what we’re starting with, unfortunately. If you’re in the same boat, I understand . But if your site is public and you can link to examples, please do.
Bonus points: Include links to any topics on your forum that describe guidelines for tagging or using tags to discover content in your community.